Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Feminine Differential – Social Status

How many of you are aware that a change in your presentation represents a change in your social status?  Unfortunately, a person's skin color, gender, or visible ethnicity determines how they are perceived as well treated.  

As a transgender person, have you ever experienced that differential?   Have you ever been treated as less than a “(male) person” either because of being perceived as female or as transgender?   I have and allow me tell one of the stories.  

I was working as a systems designer for a doctor’s office in Tampa, FL.  My project was to write a medical office management system including a medical records database - Cutting edge for the early 1990s.  The project was almost ready and needed a network of computers for retrieving data/charts for the multi-room practice.  This was before Cat5 or Wi-Fi and the wiring was to be a single coax cable, 10BASE2 using BNC "T" connection at each computer and terminated at the end of each run - simple. I contracted with a company to do the work.  

This office was very liberal and my work presentation was flexible. So on the day the wiring was to take place, Rhonda provided detail written instruction for the technician.  I went to each room that a drop was to take place and explained the loop setup.  My estimate was that the job would take about half-a-day.  The technician started in the morning and I checked in at noon.  He was struggling and it was obvious. I went over the connections again.  About mid-afternoon, he came to me and told me (not ask), “try the connections”.  It was not going to work because he had it all wrong.  Shortly thereafter, he left but did promise to come back the next day.  

The next morning when I arrived, now in male presentation, he was waiting in his truck.  I approached him and explained what was needed again.  He looked at me said, “I am sure glad I have a man I can work with today”.  He took my instructions and was finished in about an hour; working communication.  

He did not want to listen or was willing to take instruction from a woman. Rhonda was “less of a person” than he wanted to work with.  I was stunned at this change of status.  Anytime I have related this story, the men are shocked as I was, and the women all know how it is going to end, long before I even get to the conclusion.  

So, are you aware that a change in your presentation represents a change in your social status?  Any experiences on your part?  Please comment.  


  1. I can't say that I have had that experience Rhonda because I have never had to work as Joanna. What I do find on the social side of things is that women smile at me and treat me very well as do men. But I can see how in the work environment things could be very different because I also work in a very technical field and women here have shared with me that very frustration of having a man say the very same thing they just said but its actually listened to rather than ignored.

    1. I can't know how that working experience would be either---never having been in that position-but I am aware of how a lot of men do not listen and do seem to dismiss a woman telling them how to do THEIR "man's job-----as far as being treated differently as a woman--I can say when I've been out shopping I am treated nicer by many in stores when it's Connie out there !!!

  2. Joann thank you for the comment. You are right about the smile and being treated differently. I love that part...

  3. I have never presented as a women at work. I did work for a women for three years and it was one of my best work experiences. We did have a few of the male workers that had issues but with some gentle persuasion they came around.
    When I first met my new boss she was at the site on an intro tour. I was a little apprehensive but once I got to know her I loved working for her. Sadly, she retired after three years.